What Should You Avoid in Your Personal Essay for College

What Should You Avoid in Your Personal Essay for College?

Although a personal essay for college can demonstrate excellent writing and topic choice, it can still leave an unfavorable impression if it contains inappropriate or repetitive information. Here are some examples of topics to leave out of your statement.

Your Grades, Test Scores, and Academic Achievements

Successful college essays typically include information that does not appear anywhere else in the application https://cocalc.com/share/public_paths/5dcd24ed4ead943e9c94a1d5a7082c1ad127e41e. When reviewing other submission documents, admissions officers can learn about students' grades, previous courses, and scholarly achievements. As such, the essay should not focus on these kinds of details.

Your Life of Privilege

Steer clear of topics that highlight a privileged lifestyle. For example, framing a relatively common athletic injury as the hardest challenge you've faced may not demonstrate resilience as effectively as you'd like it to. It also suggests a lack of awareness of more serious obstacles others your age have faced.

Your Pet

In your eyes, Fido and Fluffy may be the most amazing creatures on the planet. But we all love our pets. You want your college essay to stand out by focusing on a topic or experience that's unique to you rather than something universal.

Cliches and Trite Quotations

A college admissions essay presents an opportunity for students to express their creativity and originality of thought. Using cliches and trite expressions makes writers appear lazy or unimaginative. Also, some sayings may be relevant to specific cultures, alienating or confusing some readers.

Your Criminal Record

Everybody admires an underdog who overcomes adversity, but illuminating past missteps with the law isn't exactly the best way to make a good first impression on college admissions officers. While you shouldn't sanitize reality for the benefit of your readers, choose a college essay topic that at the very least presents you in a positive light.

Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

Knowing how to write a college application essay includes detecting spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. Error-free personal statements go far to illustrate applicants' excellent writing skills. Students might ask teachers, mentors, or others they trust to read their essays to catch any mistakes before submitting them.

College Application Essay Example

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?


I planned my high school career carefully: marching band, honors courses, and three dual-credit college classes. My senior year should have been a smooth glide to graduation, with multiple electives to fill out the seven-hour day.

As a member of the Class of 2011, however, I became part of the first group of students to fall under the Texas Education Agency's new "4×4 plan." High school graduation requirements for Texas students expanded to include four years of four core subjects: mathematics, social studies, English, and science.

Under the new plan, despite careful planning, I was one year short on science. Due to the limited curriculum options of my small school, the only course on my prescribed registration list was Biology II. Enrolling in Biology II meant participating in the final project: dissecting cats.

I had avoided the course in the past for this exact reason. Being a longtime animal lover and advocate, there was simply no way I would — or could — take a scalpel to the body of a nameless shelter cat — killed in a gas chamber, its limbs stiff, fur matted with embalming fluid.

If all else failed, I was ready to sacrifice my 4.0 GPA. I was prepared to sit out for the project and take a dozen failing grades.

But first, I decided to put up a fight.

I drafted a formal letter to the principal and the biology teacher, discussing my reservations. I sent a second letter to the school's anatomy teacher. Her courses were over capacity, strictly limited to students interested in pursuing a health major in college, and the only other science option available at my grade level.

I let them know how the sudden introduction of the 4×4 plan felt like a punishment to students like me who had painstakingly planned their high school years from the start. I told them of my compassion for all living creatures, my concern with the use of cruel carbon monoxide euthanasia in Texas shelters, and the availability of modern computer programs that required no desecration of beloved companion animals.

When my senior year arrived, I had a seat in the crowded anatomy classroom — a future music major, alongside two dozen students with their eyes set on nursing, physical therapy, and medical school.

Presenting my views in a clear, respectful way prompted three adults in authority to make a positive change on my behalf. I was further informed that, in the years to follow, shelter cats would be phased out of Biology II and replaced with virtual dissection labs.

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